A South Coast Fire and Rescue crew have shared some of their harrowing experiences during the summer bushfires and the lessons they hope the community has learned.
By New Year's Eve, Batemans Bay Fire and Rescue strike teams had been part of the battle for more than two months.
In November, Fire and Rescue retained and permanent firefighters were sent to Casino, and northern Rivers, for a week at a time.
Batemans Bay Fire and Rescue station commander Craig Mashman drove the 17-hour trip to Casino to join a team. When his week was over, he came back to the North Black Range fire at Braidwood.
"I drove back on Thursday and on the Friday and fire activity kicked off at Braidwood," Mr Mashman said.
Mr Mashman said the Braidwood fire was easier to contain because of different topography, the wind was not as fast, and there was less ground fuel.
He and the Batemans Bay Rural Fire Service captain discussed projected fire activities for the season, and identified pinch points should the weather eventuate during the fire.
Mr Mashman said there was no doubt "if things went bad, they were going to be very bad".
When the Currowan fire started to quickly develop, Fire and Rescue's role went from managing hazard reduction burns and back burns, to life and property protection for the fire season.
Mr Mashman said although there was aerial assistance, he would have preferred another 10 trucks, which could extinguish fire during fierce winds when it was too dangerous for helicopters.
He had worried about logging at the back of Mogo: "There's huge amounts of fuel on the ground there," Mr Mashman said.
"If the winds went westerly or nor-westerly, there was nothing we could do to stop it running into this town.
"It was just going to be unstoppable. I've been worried about that for years."
On New Year's Eve, Mr Mashman said he still had been given "no information, I had no idea how big the fire was, where it was coming from, where it was headed to and whether people had been evacuated".
Fires aren't supposed to crown downhill. I'd never seen that before in my life.Craig Mashman
Resources were stretched.
Senior firefighter Nathan Pascoe and his crew received their first call at 7.10am and headed out to the Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Garden, where the fire jumped the Princes Highway.
"The fire went straight over the top of the truck," Mr Pascoe said.
His team went to The Ridge Road, Dunns Creek Road and met Fire and Rescue strike crews at Tallgums Way, Surf Beach.
Watch a crew drive through Dunns Creek Road towards Tomakin on New Year's Eve morning in the video below. Warning: explicit language
They aimed to meet at Towrang Avenue, but the fire jumped the road there too.
"Fires aren't supposed to crown downhill," Mr Mashman said. "I'd never seen that before in my life."
Under ember attack and intense, radiant heat, communication was poor.
"We had communications jumping on and off, it just depended on where you were," Mr Mashman said.
"Depending on how much fire activity, it just went dead. All you got was white noise. That's not good."
Firefighters relied on line of sight.
Mr Mashman said he called out on a PA telling people to pack up and get out.
"I'm telling people to get out, and they're saying, 'I want my kid to see this fire'," Mr Mashman said.
"It was crazy!"
As Mr Mashman tasked his three Fire and Rescue trucks to Eric Fenning Drive at Surf Beach to set up a defensive line, two RFS tankers from Sydney joined his strike team.
"There's safety in numbers," Mr Mashman said.
"They had air sets that I could utilise.
"I kept the Fire and Rescue crews in the middle of the defensive and the RFS tankers on either end where the fire wasn't going to be as ferocious.
"I was able to establish communications with the RFS tankers via the UHF radio network."
Mr Mashman said Fire and Rescue crews protected homes at Surf Beach and Denhams Beach all morning.
"My Fire and Rescue crews did the best we could," Mr Mashman said.
"I had to make a conscious decision to leave Surf Beach as soon as the fire front had passed.
"I thanked RFS for their assistance and Fire and Rescue crews headed for properties on the southern fringes of town.
"I did that with a heavy heart; I didn't want to do it.
"But factories were on fire, and we were starting to lose houses in our Fire an Rescue district that would have allowed the fire front to run straight at the hospital and the centre of Batemans Bay."
It caught the house again and we had no water; they had no water. If they didn't leave, they would have died.Nathan Pascoe
After, crews were sent to Catalina, where dozens of homes were burning, and firefighters set up a water curtain to stop the fire heading towards town.
"At Catalina we had nearly no more air cylinders," Mr Mashman said.
"We've got a compressor at the station to fill our cylinders, but because we had no power, we couldn't fill our air cylinders up."
He said he couldn't see 20 metres above the road and there were LPG bottles, water heaters and houses exploding nearby.
"There were power lines arching and down all around us," he said.
"My concern was the welfare of the firefighters.
"I had to make sure they were capable of doing the job safely yet effectively.
"They'd just been overrun twice before that, and there was every chance we were going to get overrun again in Heron road."
Mr Mashman said firefighters were rotated 20 minutes at a time, holding the hose lines to maintain the water curtain.
"We had to wait it out until the fire dissipated a bit, the wind dropped off and the smoke lifted," he said.
"I brought another Fire and Rescue crew from Albury fighting a fire at a Kylie Crescent factory.
"The factory was lost, but people and houses are more important," Mr Mashman said.
"If this fire had burnt down (Heron) Road, it would have burnt into the centre of town. We would have lost the centre of town."
Mr Pascoe said crews pulled people out of homes several times.
On The Ridge Road, he found an elderly couple, their daughter, and her four-year-old.
"The elderly residents were prepared to sit there with garden hoses," Mr Pascoe said.
He said he pleaded with them for at least the daughter and child to leave "because you could see the fire coming up the ridge".
"They said, 'no, we fought the '94 ones, we'll be right'.
"Then the fire came from the south, swirled around and trapped us from behind.
"It caught the house again and we had no water; they had no water. If they didn't leave, they would have died.
"We went back and the home was burnt down, their driveway was full of burnt felled gum trees."
"It's tough to take on board what happened that day," Mr Mashman said.
"But we saved hundreds of houses in eight hours.
"We've got to take that as a win. Houses can be rebuilt; lives can't be replaced.
"I can't thank these people enough (firefighters), and the people who helped us."
Mr Mashman said there were many lessons to be learned from the horrific experience.
He said land should be better managed: "I think this (the fires) proves current practices are not sustainable," he said.
"When you're asked to evacuate, please do so. Get together with your family and design a fire evacuation plan."
He also said cultural burning practices should be looked in to.